Texas Connects Us: Arcade Game Nostalgia in Richardson

Fans of vintage arcade games now have a place to go in North Texas. Free Play is the only arcade in Richardson.

Corey Hyden, an attorney by trade but a gamer at heart, opened the arcade last December.

"I bought an arcade game about two years into my practice as an attorney, as a general stress relief thing," Hyden said. "It was something I knew I could only play five or six minutes at a time and still get a nice gaming experience. And I immediately wanted another one, and another one, and very quickly my wife said we don't need six or seven arcade games in our house."

His business off Beltline and Plano Road near Richardson Square Mall is home to more than 80 arcade games. Some of the oldest in the collection were first introduced more than 30 years ago.

Hyden spends most of his time tinkering with the games to keep them working. It takes special equipment and hard to find parts.

"There are three of us who work about 30 to 40 hours a week each, at least, just keeping the games that we have running," he said.

Fans seem to appreciate the detail Hyden puts into his work.

"It's pretty incredible how well some of them hold up," said game developer Nick Culbertson. "It's really cool for me because I grew up with a lot of these arcade games, so it kinda taps into the nostalgia."

But opening the arcade wasn't easy.

"We had something like 30 letters in opposition when we tried to open. No, more than that, 50, to the city council saying not to give us a permit to open," Hyden said. "Arcades had this bad reputation for a while as drug dens or truancy – where kids went to skip school and that kind of stuff."

Still, Hyden decided to put his law work on hold to pursue his dream and open the arcade.

After all, if you choose a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life.

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